Obama Won’t Sign Off On GOP Budget, White House Says

Obama won't sign off on GOP budget, White House saysThe White House has issued a warning to GOP lawmakers who are proposing significant cuts to the current budget: The Federal government will shut down if Republicans can't compromise on spending measures.

The Office of Management and Budget released a statement on Feb. 16 saying that President Barack Obama would veto any spending measure that resembles the GOP's current proposal, which is $61 billion less than 2010 levels and $100 billion less than Obama's request. The government is currently operating on last year's budget because Congress failed to pass a spending bill for fiscal year 2011.

However, the stop-gap measure is set to expire on March 4. If the President does not sign a new budget into law by that date, the Federal government will shut down.

The Republican-led House of Representatives began debating the spending bill earlier this week, and the discussion featured a new twist, according to The Wall Street Journal. Due to recent rule changes in the legislative process, the bill will be read aloud paragraph by paragraph on the chamber floor and members can rise and propose an amendment, as long as it relates to the passage being read.

After the amendment is introduced, any House member can speak for five minutes to weigh in on the proposal.

"This is an open process," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R.-Va.), quoted by the media outlet. "Every member will have an opportunity to submit his or her vision of how we can reduce the deficit."

More On The Lying Liars, Idiot Dictators And T(Sl)ime Magazine

*Obama’s lying liars and the Federal debt. I caught a lot of flak three weeks ago for my Straight Talk column about raising the debt ceiling. Some of Obama’s apologists didn’t like my title, which I just repeated. But consider something I didn’t include in that article: The Obama Administration took ownership of two long-time money-losing operations known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Together, these corrupt lenders are on the hook for $5.6 trillion in debt. (That’s T as in “terrible.”) But guess what? Thanks to some fraudulent bookkeeping on the part of Uncle Sam, not a penny of this shows up in an accounting of Federal debt. But you’re on the hook for every penny of it, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer.

*The idiots who ruled Egypt learn a lesson. So it’s so long to Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s tough-guy dictator for the past 30 years. We were supposed to like him because he was allegedly tough on Muslim extremists. Of course, he was also tough on Christian evangelicals, conservative traditionalists and any young people who wanted a taste of freedom and self-rule. Of all the dumb things he and his cohorts did, though, trying to ban the Internet might have been the stupidest. That’s like King Canute ordering the tide to recede. I don’t know what the future will bring in that often unhappy land. But hopefully it will be a smarter, better ruler than the idiot who just got deposed.

*Time magazine continues its legacy of falsehoods. Back in the day when I made a few bucks traveling around the country giving speeches, I liked to refer to Time magazine as slime. I told my audience I wouldn’t trust the page numbers in it unless I counted them myself. But even Slime outdid itself on a recent cover, when it Photoshopped a photograph of Ronald Reagan embracing Barack Obama. Coming right before the nation commemorated what would have been Reagan’s 100th birthday, that’s pretty despicable even for such a rotten, lying, liberal rag.

–Chip Wood

Which President Did That?

You wouldn’t think Disney World would be a good source for presidential trivia. But during a recent visit, I came across a piece of history that stumped my good friend Chris, who is a world champion at presidential trivia.

Here’s what happened. It’s been many years since I had visited the Hall of Presidents, so during a recent visit to the Magic Kingdom I decided to take a break between the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean (two of my all-time favorites) and pay it a visit.

I’d forgotten about the display of historic mementoes in the exhibit area outside the theater. There was a wine glass from the James K. Polk Administration — sort of strange when you think of it, since Polk was an ardent teetotaler who refused to serve wine at White House dinners. There was a high-school essay by George Bush. And there was a golf club belonging to the President “who played more rounds of golf than any other while serving in office.” Can you guess who it was?

If you, like me and my friend Chris, said Ike, you’d be wrong. According to the experts at Disney, the answer is Woodrow Wilson.

Chris isn’t sure they got that one right. But he’s absolutely certain he knows the answers to the following 25 questions. Let’s see how you do on this Presidents’ Day Quiz he prepared for us.

  1. Which President never married?
    1. James K. Polk
    2. Benjamin Harrison
    3. James Buchanan
    4. Martin Van Buren

  2. Name the first President born west of the Mississippi River.
    1. Ronald Reagan
    2. Nixon
    3. William Howard Taft
    4. Herbert Hoover

  3. Which man was both the 22nd and 24th President?
    1. Benjamin Harrison
    2. Grover Cleveland
    3. Wilson
    4. Rutherford B. Hayes

  4. In which movie did Nancy Reagan play opposite her husband Ronald?
    1. Bedtime for Bonzo
    2. The African Queen
    3. Rockne, All American
    4. Hellcats of the Navy

  5. Who was the first President to leave the Continental United States?
    1. William McKinley
    2. Woodrow Wilson
    3. Roosevelt
    4. Chester Arthur

  6. Which State has provided the most native-born sons as Presidents?
    1. Massachusetts
    2. Virginia
    3. Ohio
    4. New York

  7. How many men have become President because their predecessors were assassinated?
    1. 3
    2. 4
    3. 5
    4. 6

  8. Which President won the Nobel Peace Prize for his assistance in ending the Russian-Japanese War?
    1. Grover Cleveland
    2. Wilson
    3. Harry Truman
    4. Theodore Roosevelt

  9. Theodore Roosevelt insisted upon proceeding with a scheduled speech in Milwaukee despite which incident?
    1. His train arrived 2 hours late
    2. had been sick with a flu for several days
    3. He was shot outside the arena
    4. His wife Edith was rushed to the hospital

  10. Name the only President to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy.
    1. Franklin Roosevelt
    2. Dwight Eisenhower
    3. Richard Nixon
    4. Jimmy Carter

  11. Name the only President born in California.
    1. Herbert Hoover
    2. Ronald Reagan
    3. Richard Nixon
    4. James Garfield

  12. Name the first Vice President to succeed to the Presidency due to the death of the President.
    1. Martin Van Buren
    2. John Tyler
    3. Zachary Taylor
    4. Millard Fillmore

  13. Name the first President to appear on television.
    1. Harry Truman
    2. Dwight Eisenhower
    3. John F. Kennedy
    4. Franklin Roosevelt

  14. Name the man who was present as each of three Presidents lay mortally wounded by assassins’ bullets.
    1. Roscoe Conkling
    2. James Blaine
    3. Robert Lincoln
    4. Upton Sinclair

  15. Which incumbent Vice President did not win election to the Presidency?
    1. Martin Van Buren
    2. George H. W. Bush
    3. Al Gore
    4. Thomas Jefferson

  16. Which member of the Warren Commission that investigated the assassination of President Kennedy later became President himself?
    1. Lyndon Johnson
    2. Jimmy Carter
    3. Gerald Ford
    4. Richard Nixon

  17. Name the only man who has been both President and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
    1. John Marshall
    2. Woodrow Wilson
    3. Herbert Hoover
    4. William Howard Taft

  18. Name the only President to have been a Rhodes Scholar.
    1. Jimmy Carter
    2. Dwight Eisenhower
    3. Bill Clinton
    4. John F. Kennedy

  19. Name the dog made famous in Richard Nixon’s 1952 campaign speech.
    1. Fala
    2. Liberty
    3. Checkers
    4. Laddie Boy

  20. Name the only President buried in Washington, D.C.
    1. Franklin Roosevelt
    2. Woodrow Wilson
    3. John F. Kennedy
    4. William Howard Taft

  21. While dying from cancer, he worked feverishly to complete his memoirs, so the royalties it would earn would provide for his family.
    1. Harry Truman
    2. Dwight Eisenhower
    3. James Monroe
    4. U. S. Grant

  22. Which President started the tradition of tossing out the first ball on baseball’s Opening Day?
    1. Theodore Roosevelt
    2. William Howard Taft
    3. William McKinley
    4. Warren G. Harding

  23. Which President received a ticket for speeding in Washington, D.C.?
    1. U. S. Grant
    2. Lyndon Johnson
    3. Andrew Johnson
    4. Calvin Coolidge

  24. Which President’s wife was nicknamed Lemonade Lucy for her refusal to serve liquor in the White House?
    1. U.S. Grant
    2. Abraham Lincoln
    3. Rutherford Hayes
    4. James Garfield

  25. Name the only President born on the 4th of July.
    1. James Madison
    2. Calvin Coolidge
    3. Franklin Pierce
    4. Andrew Jackson

Think you got them all correct? Here are the answers: 1 = c, 2 = d, 3 = b, 4 = d, 5 = c, 6 = b, 7 = b, 8 = d, 9 = c, 10 = d, 11 = c, 12 = b, 13 = d, 14 = c, 15 = c, 16 = c, 17 = d, 18 = c, 19 = c, 20 = b, 21 = d, 22 = b, 23 = a, 24 = c, 25 = b.

Thanks, Chris, for helping to educate us about our Presidents. And to everyone reading this, be sure to visit the Hall of Presidents next time you’re at Disney World. This audio-animatronic presentation is almost as good as The American Adventure at Epcot. Morgan Freeman’s narration is simply magnificent.

And while you may resent the fact that the current occupant of the White House gets longer to speak than any other President, take heart by knowing that in two years he’ll be replaced on the platform — and in the White House.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Quakes Shake Chile One Year After Historic Natural Disaster

Quakes shake Chile one year after historic natural disasterAlmost a year after the Feb. 27, 2010 earthquake in Chile that killed more than 520 people, left 220,000 homeless and caused $30 billion in damages, residents in the South American nation have been forced to use self-survival skills again as another series of quakes struck this past week.

According to The Epoch Times, the Chilean region of Biobio has been hit with more than 100 earthquakes and aftershocks since Feb. 11, 2011. In the central region of Maule, four quakes measuring over 6 on the Richter scale have occurred since last week. As a result, many residents have been forced out of their homes, some train services have been suspended and power outages have been reported.

The deadly natural disaster that hit Chile last year was an 8.8-magnitude quake, and was the fifth-strongest in a century.

While California has been the State most susceptible to earthquakes in recent decades, geologists and seismologists have predicted that a major quake is likely to strike central United States between now and 2035, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The agency suggested that Americans should plan and practice an emergency procedure in the event of an earthquake.

The CDC states that individuals should get under a sturdy table or desk if they start to feel a significant rumbling or tremor under their feet. If people are not near a desk or table, they should find a strongly supported doorway or corner of the house that could protect them from falling debris.

Fiber Intake Shown To Prevent Many Diseases

Fiber intake shown to prevent many diseasesData collected from the National Institutes of Health AARP Diet and Health Study shows a strong association between high dietary fiber intake and a lowered risk of death from cardiovascular, respiratory and infectious diseases.

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute analyzed the health data of more than 388,000 study participants and found that those who consumed the most  fiber had a 22 percent lower risk of death than individuals who got the least amount.

Additionally, men with high fiber intake cut their chances of cardiovascular, respiratory and infectious illnesses by 24 percent to 56 percent, and women reduced risks of those diseases by 34 percent to 59 percent.

Men on the higher end of the fiber intake spectrum got 29.4 grams a day, while women on the high end consumed 25.8 grams daily. Males on the lower end ate 12.6 grams of fiber per day and women in that category had a daily intake of 10.8 grams per day.

The National Institutes of Health recommends getting fiber from oatmeal and other whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds.

The agency also reports that healthy fiber derived from whole grains may also lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and assist in weight loss. 

Supreme Court Likely To Define 1st Amendment Rights Of Churches

Supreme Court likely to define 1st Amendment rights of churchesThe Supreme Court is expected to soon deliver its opinion on a 1st Amendment issue involving an Oregon-based pastor who sued his former employer, a church, for defamation of character.

According to OregonLive.com, pastor Tim Tubra was fired by the Vernonia Foursquare Church in 2004 after clergy officials accused him of "misappropriation of church funds." Tubra, who was never charged with a theft-related crime, filed a lawsuit against the church after he discovered that his former employer made its accusation public in a letter that was read aloud to the congregation.

A jury in Multnomah County sided with Tubra and awarded him $355,000 in damages, but the trial judge threw out the verdict because he said the court did not have jurisdiction over the church's freedom of religion rights granted by the 1st Amendment.

However, an Oregon Court of Appeals upheld the jury's original decision, ruling that the church's defaming statements were not religious in nature, according to the news provider. Appellate judge Rex Armstrong said that accusing a pastor of theft is no more or less a religious matter than "accusing a pastor of child molestation."

Brooksby Kaempf, the civil litigation firm representing the church, stated that the upcoming Supreme Court's decision could make a lasting mark on the 1st Amendment and the free exercise of religion.

"This case presents the Court with the opportunity to clarify this important Constitutional issue and to uphold the right of churches to manage their internal affairs without courts getting involved," said John Kaempf. 

Cards On The Table

As soon as President Barack Obama ascended to the White House through a campaign of overt race-baiting, the Tea Party ascended to wield real clout in the conservative wing of American politics. Simultaneously, the economy headed South for the winter (cold weather brought on by sport-utility vehicles.)

The rise of the Tea Party movement inside, or at least attendant to, the Republican Party, has carried with it the predictable response from the Left:

“Racist.”

Talk about sensible economic policy (a national debt lower than 13 FIGURES) and you must hate black people. Push for sensible immigration policy (an illegal immigrant population lower than the population of Guatemala) and you hate Hispanics. And should you dare suggest that Obama isn’t the modern incarnation of the Son of Man himself, prepare for rhetorical stones the size of Mount Everest to rocket in your direction.

The Democrat party is quite fond of describing itself as “the party of the big tent.” Lately, it occurs to me that the “big tent” is fairly fragile.

Here at Personal Liberty Digest, we have demonstrated the essential hypocrisy at the heart of liberalism. While the Left has generally shrugged off such accusations with that eyes-closed scoff they evidently learn in liberal school, their own words are even harder to ignore than a thoughtful essay by Bob Livingston, a detailed analysis by Chip Wood, a brilliant thesis by John Myers or a well-timed crack by yours truly. (I would have described my commentaries as “thoughtful,” “detailed,” or “brilliant,” but Bob, Chip and John get first dibs on modifiers.)

Liberal hypocrisy has become so ubiquitous that acknowledging it is clichéd. Whether it’s Al Gore demanding we adopt luddite lifestyles while he leaves “carbon footprints” the size of the Grand Canyon; Nancy Pelosi bloviating about the plight of the poor while living like Croesus; or Obama lecturing about belt-tightening while his wife lounges with a few dozen of her closest friends at a lush five-star resort, the watchwords of the Left always seem to boil down to a mockery of the old parental saw: “Do as we say, not as we do.”

At the bottom of the liberal barrel is their ace in the hole: The race card. Of all the oratorical outrages visited upon us by the Democrats in the Age of Obama, the race card is the most aggravatingly overused. Even Jon Stewart, who is no more conservative than the editorial board of The New York Times, suggested in a recent skit that the race card has been “maxed out.”

And yet, professional parasites like Al Sharpton continue to wield power; and putty-faced Democrats continue to use “racist” as an ersatz punctuation mark in debates over everything from Obamacare to immigration policy.

Two weeks ago, Common Cause held a demonstration at which their members were videotaped proudly calling for the lynching of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. During last week’s CPAC conference, millionaire businessman Herman Cain delivered a stirring call in support of true conservative values, only to be lambasted on liberal website Alternet in shocking terms. According to self-described “respectable negro” Chauncey DeVega:

“…I find black garbage pail kids (black conservatives) fascinating not because of what they believe, but rather because of how they entertain and perform for their White Conservative masters.”

Herman Cain may be a lot of things — I am certainly no fan of Godfather’s Pizza — but “garbage pail kid” seems a bit off the reservation. DeVega was far from finished:

“…Herman Cain’s shtick is a version of race minstrelsy where he performs ‘authentic negritude’…”

I believe the kids would call that a “facepalm” moment. DeVega went on to describe the immensely successful and respected Cain as a “monkey.” I “Googled” “Chauncey DeVega Herman Cain.” After a seventh page of results which included absolutely no mainstream media outlets, I gave up. Granted, there are some pressing issues which deserve attention. However, I suspect if a prominent conservative compared Obama to one of our simian cousins, their career would be in DeVega’s “garbage pail” faster than you can say “respectable negro.”

The conservative movement probably contains some racist elements. But, conservatives with IQ’s higher than teenage pop stars abhor, marginalize and ultimately shun bigotry when they encounter it. Liberals won’t acknowledge the same among their ranks; even when it’s calling a respected American a “monkey.”

We need to have a real conversation about some serious issues in this country. But until we can be honest with each other — we will never be “free at last, free at last, great God almighty, free at last.”

Fire Starters

While rubbing two sticks together to start a fire worked fine for early man, it’s far from the ideal way to get a fire going in an emergency situation. So it’s best to have multiple options available to you if, or when, you find yourself in a crisis.

Face it, if you’re cold or wet or hungry — or all three — you don’t need to be wasting valuable time using primitive methods to start a fire when modern conveniences are available.

In his book, 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive, survivalist Cody Lundin recommends you have three forms of fire starters in your survival kit: Matches, a butane lighter and a magnesium block.

The matches should be the strike-anywhere variety, prepared with a wax coating and stored in a water-tight container. The lighter should be the adjustable variety.

For the magnesium block, Lundin recommends attaching a section of an old hacksaw blade to the magnesium block. The blade can be used to scrape shavings off the block to aid in getting a flame going in the tinder.

Structural Money Devaluation In The West

When facing questions about foreign currencies, a common response is, “I don’t care about currencies. I buy my milk, butter and bread in United States dollars, I get paid in U.S. dollars and my mortgage is in U.S. dollars.” However, given the large and potentially severe consequences of today’s economic situation and global structural changes, everybody should be aware of the importance of currency diversification and how you can manage the risk of future currency devaluation.

Many Western nations have entered a prolonged period of deep structural change that will take many years to complete. For decades, Western nations enjoyed increasing prosperity and that resulted in a steep increase of government spending and a never ending increase in the build-up of welfare states. This has caused an accumulation of huge amounts of government debt in many major economies.

Now, changing demographics, chronic overregulation and the wrong economic incentives could make the problem even more severe. Therefore the ongoing liquidity injections, such as the European bailouts or quantitative easing in the U.S., could eventually force a further and potentially severe devaluation of money and currencies.

Loss of purchasing power affects everybody and almost everything. The chart below shows by how much the U.S. dollar has already devalued in the last 10 years against other major currencies: The euro, Swiss franc, yen and Singapore dollar.


*EUR=Euro / CHF=Swiss Franc / JPY=Japanese Yen / SGD=Singapore Dollar / Change in % vs. USD (Base 100%)

 

This chart illustrates how important currency diversification is and how global investments can help investors to protect against the adverse effects of the domestic situation.

Many investors underestimate the very powerful benefits of proper currency diversification, if they think about it at all, but recent history shows us how important a sound currency investment strategy is. Let’s look for example at the events in the global economy last year, they are highly alarming.

The sovereign debt crises in many countries have worsened significantly and we are facing a situation today where a large number of governments, countries and individual states are facing technical bankruptcy. The situation is most concerning in the U.S. and in Europe where there are plenty of reasons to believe that both regions, and with it their currencies, are heading for a long-term structural downward trend. Of course, central banks and the IMF can put together bailout programs and the Federal Reserve can engage in further quantitative easing programs, but all of these measures will come at a price.

It would be outright foolish to believe that all this liquidity can be created out of thin air without real economic consequences. These consequences do not come overnight but might actually take two to three years until we see the negative impacts — in this case rising inflation — in daily life. The price that needs to be paid longer-term is eventually borne by everybody through destruction of wealth and the loss of purchasing power.

It essentially acts like another tax on everybody at a time when tax rates are already at painful levels. This situation can only be avoided by governments gradually cutting deficits and redirecting spending into sensible expenditures that produce real economic value for its citizens.

Unfortunately, the deficits are increasing. The U.S. government’s debt is on track to reach $15 trillion by the end of this year and is therefore exceeding the size of U.S. gross domestic product for the first time since the years immediately after World War II.

In the absence of dramatic spending cuts, redirected investments and savings programs, this debt burden will most likely continue to rise because just servicing the large debt burden is a real challenge already.  The chart below illustrates the sharp rise of the U.S. debt burden since the mid 60s.

Despite the fact that European countries have announced large spending cuts, the situation is not better there than in the U.S. While the deficits might be smaller in the future, the European Union and the euro will face a number of serious challenges in the years to come that could even put the future of the European Union — as we know it — at risk.

 The recent bailout programs for Ireland and Greece and potential future rescue operations for troubled member states are a real stress test for the Union. It seems that there is an increasing reluctance among individual member states to help countries which are facing financial distress. This has lead to a rise in anti-Euro sentiment in certain states, especially Germany and France. In France, the far right wing party “Front Nationale” is becoming a lot more popular and their main political goal is to exit the European Union and its common currency system, not a very encouraging prospect for Europe.

The enormous liquidity injections that we have seen in the past three years are a very big and risky experiment, with the outcome remaining highly uncertain. It is understandable that today’s central bankers are very concerned about the reemergence of deflation and its destructive effects on the economy. One only needs to look at the situation in Japan, where the economy has been in deflation for most of the last 20 years.

However, Japan is a different situation given that its economy needed a lot of restructuring, a process that has still not been completed. Japan’s debt situation looks even worse at first glance; however, taking into consideration the large private savings of its people, Japan can better afford the significant debt burden because most of it is financed from domestic sources, a truly significant difference to the situation in the U.S. today.

The Federal Reserve will probably continue to keep rates at these very low levels in an effort to stimulate the economy as much as possible. But eventually the market demands a higher yield for U.S. government debt, given the fact that its financial situation continues to deteriorate. This could lead to a further decrease of the U.S. dollar and rapidly rising price levels through the import of inflation.

Don’t forget, many goods such as food, energy and commodities are priced on a global level. Given this situation, it is even possible that we might see stagflation (rising inflation with little to no economic growth) appearing on the horizon.

With the outlook for the U.S. dollar and the euro remaining quite negative, it is highly important to keep some savings and investments in other currencies which are stronger and might be gaining in value in the years to come. There are plenty of attractive currency investments to choose from globally.

Don’t expect central banks to print less money and don’t hope for governments to spend the tax money more wisely. The only way to protect against the forced currency destruction is to be proactive and start investing globally.

–Daniel Zurbrügg

California’s High Court Rules That Stores Can’t Request ZIP Codes

California's high court rules that stores can't request ZIP codesRetailers do not have the right to ask consumers for their ZIP code while completing credit card transactions, according to a ruling by the California Supreme Court.

According to CNN, California's high court of seven judges unanimously stated that the practice of requesting customers' ZIP codes infringe on their privacy rights. The ruling, which overrules previous decisions by trial and appeals courts in the Golden State, pointed to a 1971 State law that prohibits businesses from asking credit card users from information that could be used to track them down.

Requesting ZIP codes "would permit retailers to obtain indirectly what they are clearly prohibited from obtaining directly," the ruling stated, quoted by the media outlet.

Bill Dombrowski, president of the California Retailers Association, told the news provider that he was surprised by the decision, which he called "terrible." He added that it is ironic that a practice that aims partly to protect customers from fraud has been ruled illegal.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the lawsuit was originally filed by Jessica Pineda, who alleges that she provided her ZIP code to a retailer in 2008, then she began receiving catalogs in the mail from the company.

Beth Givens, director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, told the news source that she supports the court's decision because an individual's ZIP code, when combined with other personal data such as birthday and sex, can reveal other private information about a consumer.